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Posts Tagged ‘wine tasting’

Photograph Gratitude in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

What are you thankful for this year? Here in the Tualatin Valley, we’re oozing with gratitude for our rolling mountain ranges, bountiful farms and the way in which this fertile land creates some of the best food and wine in the country. That’s a lot of gratitude right there and we think it’s worth expressing in more than words. In fact, show us why you’re thankful for the Tualatin Valley by entering the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest

Thanksgiving weekend is also the last weekend to enter the contest (submissions close November 30!). With so much festive hullabaloo happening throughout Oregon’s Washington County, there will be last-minute photo inspiration everywhere you look:

A good turkey gobble is best followed by vineyard views at the Thanksgiving Wine Weekend. Wineries open their doors for wine tastings overlooking post-harvest vineyards. With your camera in tow, try and capture the fog twirling around the vines or dew drops dangling off the fence posts.

Fall vineyard views by Joel Zak

Fall vineyard views by Joel Zak

For photographers with a sense of humor, head to Alpacas of Oregon for the annual Alpaca Open Barn & Holiday Sale (November 28-29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Here, you’ll find goofy subjects—alpacas!—who are always curious for cameras.  

Alpacas are the best photo subjects. Photo by Joel Zak.

Alpacas are the best photo subjects. Photo by Joel Zak.

The autumn-themed photo contest can still have some wintertime flair with entries from one of our holiday tree farms or at the Helvetia Christmas Festival (November 28-30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Noble and Grand firs stand majestic, ready to be photographed in their green glory.  

Holiday Tree Farm by John Gaudette.

Holiday Tree Farm by John Gaudette.

As if these attractions aren’t reason enough to hit the town with your camera, then maybe the photo contest prizes will nudge you of the door:

Drool-worthy photography gear are the prizes for the photo contest.

Drool-worthy photography gear are the prizes for the photo contest.


1st Place:  Canon EOS 70D DSLR Camera, plus UV filter, camera bag, Canon Pixma Pro-100 printer and more (provided by The Shutterbug), plus onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $2,500)
2nd Place:  Binoculars from Leupold Optics and onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $555)
3rd Place:  $100 Visa Gift Card and onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $280)
Honorable Mention:  onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $180)

Enter the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest now!

Fall Traditions in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

traditions collageWhat’s your favorite tradition? Whether it’s a big annual fair or as simple as a yearly cookie-making party, everyone has traditions within their families and hometowns that they can count on year after year. While taking a trip might feel like a departure from tradition, a visit to the Tualatin Valley is a great time to fold yourself into the traditions of our own friendly community. As the seasons change, our traditions stay as steadfast as ever. So, come join us for some upcoming traditions where locals love seeing new faces.

Ween yourself off of Halloween’s sugar high with the 80th Annual Verboort Sausage Festival (November 1 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; 4285 NW Visitation Road, Forest Grove; $8-$16). The community of Verboort is filled with families that have been in the area for as long as 150 years; so they’ve had time to really hone their recipe for the homemade sausage, sauerkraut and applesauce that they began sharing at the yearly dinner in 1934. This tradition is a popular one as the Verboort Sausage Festival accommodates 8,000 diners in a single day. Doing the math, that accounts for about 15 tons of sausage!

You know how some families decorate their home for the holidays the day after Thanksgiving? Well, Al’s Garden Center in Sherwood doesn’t buy that logic. They happily jump the gun with the Annual Evening of Lights (November 6 from 4 to 9 p.m.; Al’s Garden Center; free). Stroll through designer-decorated Christmas trees while listening to live music. The best part? Enter the warm greenhouses to pick out your favorite, freshly-grown poinsettia.

Turkey may rein king as the tradition for Thanksgiving, but the weekend that follows it can be owned by Oregon wine. Whether visiting family in the greater Portland area or hosting out-of-towners, have a blast during the Thanksgiving Wine Weekend (November 28-30; various locations; varying tasting fees). Meet winemakers, enjoy barrel samples and get a sneak peek at upcoming releases. If that’s not a good tradition then we don’t know what is. Though, the wine-averse (gasp!) can instead partake in yet another tradition with Holiday Wreath Making (November 28-30 at 11:30 a.m. daily; Tillamook Forest Center; $12).

Cheers to traditions, both new and old!

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Focus on Autumn with Fall Harvest

Posted on: October 15th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

To focus on autumn means to focus on Oregon’s bounty. Focus on the gentle breeze whistling between the Tualatin Valley’s apple trees. Focus on the bright flavor of a just-picked pear. Focus on the gleeful expression of a child finding that perfect pumpkin in the patch. Focus on the sun setting in the hazelnut orchard. And don’t just focus on these precious moments—take a picture of it for the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest!


A filbert farm sunset along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. Photo by Karl Samson.

A filbert farm sunset along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. Photo by Karl Samson.

The Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest is our way of celebrating all the ways people experience autumn in the Tualatin Valley. In addition to capturing beautiful moments, photographers are also encouraged to enter their photos for a chance at the prize package that is worth $2,500! With a first, second and third place prize (as well as an honorable mention), you could win premium and professional photography gear like a Canon EOS 70D DSLR camera and amazing editing software.

So, hang your camera strap around your neck and be ready to snap the magical moments you catch at our farms and markets, as well as on the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. In case you want a creative sparkplug, we’ve included a few photography ideas below:

From Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, pumpkins are a big deal in the Tualatin Valley. Our pumpkin patches are a photographer’s dream with punchy-orange gourds resting below the mountain-scape views and barrels of hay.

The ever-photogenic poinsettias will be waiting to be photographed at the Evening of Lights (November 6 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Al’s Garden Center in Sherwood; free). Here, stroll through designer-decorated holiday trees and freshly grown poinsettias as one way to usher in the upcoming holidays.

Photo contest procrastinators can rally at the Thanksgiving Wine Weekend (November 28-November 30; varying times, locations and tasting fees). Tour some of Oregon’s best wineries for stellar wines, as well as beautiful photo-ops. Just don’t forget to submit your photos by November 30.


A winery along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route in fall. Photo by Wayne Flynn.

A winery along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route in fall. Photo by Wayne Flynn.

Find even more Tualatin Valley photography examples and inspiration!

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End of Summer Events

Posted on: August 20th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

We’re in the home stretch of summer, with just over a month until the Autumnal Equinox. We plan to soak up every last drop of summer sunshine and shenanigans. See below for the best of the best of the Tualatin Valley’s end-of-summer events.

Bask in the fading glow of summer, made easy with a Labor Day wine tasting at Plum Hill Vineyards.

Bask in the fading glow of summer, made easy with a Labor Day wine tasting at Plum Hill Vineyards.

Oregon Renaissance Festival
August 23-September 21, weekends | 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. | Washington County Fair Complex | $7.95-$15.95
Encounter a magical 16th century European village of knights, fairies and more. Bonus: learn medieval lingo!

WinCo Foods Portland Open
August 20-24 | varying times | Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course | $15
Don’t miss your chance to see the next Bubba Watson or Keegan Bradley battle for one of 25 PGA Tour Cards.

Wapato Showdown
August 23 | all day | Brown Park | free
Car enthusiasts show off their tricked-out cars and motorcycles with fun contests to boot.  

Labor Day Tasting at Quailhurst Vineyard Estate
August 30 | 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Quailhurst Vineyard Estate | $10-$20
Watch Quailhurst Vineyard Estate’s beautiful horses while sipping the winery’s fine Pinot.

Labor Day Wine & Art Show
August 30-September 1 | noon to 6 p.m. | Plum Hill Vineyard | No cover charge
Celebrate the long weekend with wine from Plum Hill Vineyards and great local artists.

Summer Festival at Garden Vineyards
September 11-14 | noon to 10 p.m. | Garden Vineyards | free
Live music, wine, and delicious food…Garden Vineyards does the end of summer right.

Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day
September 13 | all day | McMenamins Grand Lodge | free
The McMenamins Grand Lodge can’t wait for St. Patrick’s Day. Enter, an Irish-themed party now

Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival
September 20 | 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Valley Art Gallery | free
Release the artist within! Create a colorful sidewalk masterpiece in historic downtown Forest Grove.

Annual Corn Roast
September 20 | 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. | Pacific University | no cover charge
Feast on fresh roasted corn as a tribute to the last of summer’s harvest.

OMSI Star Party: Autumnal Equinox Celebration
September 20 | 7 p.m. | Stub Stewart State Park | free
Welcome the new season with a star party. Experts will help you catch a glimpse of Venus, Saturn and Mars.

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Five Ideas for Dog-Friendly Fun

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Just minutes from Portland is a dog (and dog-lover!) paradise full of hound-happy activities.

Just minutes from Portland is a dog (and dog-lover!) paradise full of hound-happy activities.

The Tualatin Valley is a pooch’s paradise. Unpretentious wineries, unhurried restaurants, and laid-back summer festivals make for a plethora of dog-friendly frolics. We’re ready for a howlin’ good time. Check out five favorite activities for humans and canines alike.

1. Tualatin Crawfish Festival’s “Atsa My Dawg”
August 2 | 1:30 pm. To 3:30 p.m. |Tualatin Commons | $4
What makes your dog special? While crawfish are the center of this three-day festival, dogs will steal the show at Saturday’s “Atsa My Dawg Show” costume and talent competition.

2. Canines Uncorked
August 9 | 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. |various wineries | $40
If you’re over-the-moon about dogs and wine, then you’ll love this dog-friendly wine event with 100% of the proceeds going to the Oregon Humane Society. Each of the 13 locations includes dog-themed activities. Pooch portraits, anyone?

3. Toast to the Tunes
August 7 & August 21 | 6 p.m. To 9 p.m.
Oak Knoll Winery | $5

Oak Knoll Winery spices up summer with its bi-weekly concert series. Bring a picnic, blanket and dog! This kid and dog-friendly event is the perfect way to jump start the weekend.

4. Advanced Fetch at L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park
Year-round | 6 p.m. To 9 p.m. | L.L. “Stub” Stewart Park | free
The off-leash dog park at L.L. Stub Stewart State is set atop a steep-sloped hill. One round of fetch will tucker out any dog. See the dog park in action with this Grant’s Getaway segment.

5. Hike to Happy Hour
Year-round | dawn to dusk | Fanno Creek Trail | free
With dog-friendly patios near lovely hiking trails, turn the wagging-tail hour into happy hour. After a jaunt through the Fanno Creek Trail, walk to the nearby Max’s Fanno Creek Brew Pub or Fireside Grill for some tasty nibbles and drinks.

With all of these dog-friendly activities, you’re going to need a few nights stay. Book the Bow Wow Package or a room at one of our other pet friendly hotels.

Past dog-happy blog posts:
Wine Dog “Ghost”
Wedding Crashing Wine Dogs

The Best Summer Events

Posted on: June 16th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

summer events collage

What does summer mean to you? With this week’s summer solstice, we’re dreaming of the long summer days ahead. From beer gardens to outdoor concerts to cruising our scenic highways on the hunt for your favorite foodie finds, summer in Oregon’s Washington County is looking mighty fine. See below for a round-up of some of our favorite summer weekend events.

Festival of Balloons in Tigard
June 20-22 | 5:45 a.m. – 11 p.m. |Cook Park |$5 parking | admission: $5; carnival ride passes available online
It’s a bird…It’s a plane…It’s a hot air balloon! This annual event celebrates summer from sunrise to sunset with spectacular hot air balloon shows, a carnival, sports and (of course!) a beer garden.

Oregon Lavender Festival
July 12-13 | varying hours |various locations |free
Take a whiff of summer! Travel between our favorite lavender farms, enjoying all that the versatile herb can create: yummy treats, luxurious bath goods and folksy home decor. Participating locations in Oregon’s Washington County include:

Barb’s Dutchmill Herbfarm  
Helvetia Lavender Farm
Jackson School Lavender
Mountainside Lavender

13th Annual Northwest String Summit
July 17-20 | noon– 6 p.m. |Horning’s Hideout |$195
Get the summer blues so long as it’s from bluegrass. With 35 bluegrass acts gracing one outdoorsy-fun venue, there’s a reason this four-day concert sells out year after year.

Dressage at DevonWood
July 18-20 | 9 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. |DevonWood Equestrian Centre |$10 parking
Say “neigh” instead of “nay” to the equestrian event of the season. Over 225 riders from Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho and Canada with a combined schedule of more than 750 rides across three days. Riders from every riding class compete for seat medals, as well as in the graceful musical freestyle competition.

Canines Uncorked Wine Tour
August 9 | 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. |various locations |$40
For some, a summer adventure isn’t complete without a dog riding shotgun. If that’s you, bring your furry best friends on this dog-friendly wine trail. Dogs love wagging their tails along the edge of the vineyards while their owners drink the best of Oregon wine. Bonus: 100% of the proceeds benefit the animals at the Oregon Humane Society.  

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Father’s Day Itinerary

Posted on: June 9th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
A classic car show and a joy-ride make for a great Father's Day Weekend.

A classic car show and a joy-ride make for a great Father’s Day Weekend.

What do you love most about spending time with your dad? We have an endless combination of ways to celebrate the special fathers in your life. Below, you’ll find just one fun and father-focused weekend itinerary:

Friday, June 13
Start the weekend by helping dad unwind and “let it go” with an outdoor viewing of the instant Disney classic, “Frozen” with Pix on the Plaza (Hillsboro Civic Center Plaza, 7-10 p.m.). Bring cozy blankets, a picnic with dad’s favorite snacks and let the kids sing their hearts out—it’ll melt Dad’s heart.

Afterward, settle in at one of our great hotels. If a family trip wouldn’t be complete without the dog, then take advantage of our Bow Wow Hotel Package.

Saturday, June 14
Get all the benefits of an epic road trip in one getaway weekend. Start with the Cruisin’ Sherwood car show (Old Town Sherwood, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.). Americana meets innovation as classic cars are kept in pristine condition through customized preservation.

Though it may not be a retro ride, hop into your own car next for a drive down the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. Spend quality family time on this 60 mile stretch of the lush Tualatin Valley. There’s an activity to match Dad’s interests: explore nature at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, pick berries at Rowell Brothers Berry Farm or go wine tasting at Shafer Vineyard Cellars.

End the tour with dinner at the Helvetia Tavern, “home of the jumbo burger.” Its juicy, perfectly grilled goodness is dad-approved. Plus, find dad’s favorite team from the vast collection of baseball hats lining the tavern’s ceiling.

Sunday, June 15
Happy Father’s Day! For a truly elevated brunch experience, make a reservation for Pig & Pinot at Plum Hill Vineyards. A patio-vineyard provides the perfect backdrop for not only wine, but also a delicious pig roast.

Whether you’re enjoying this special day with your grandfather or as a new dad yourself, be sure to make some memories that help you cherish all the reasons you love spending time with your pops.

P.S. There’s even more happening! Check out our full listing of Father’s Day Weekend events.

Red, White & Blue Memorial Weekend

Posted on: May 16th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

As the first in the line-up of summer holidays, Memorial Day can kind of sneak up on you. Just a week away, you still have time to plan a patriotic getaway. Below, we’ve correlated the colors of the American flag with the best-of-the-best in Memorial Weekend shenanigans.

Celebrate Memorial Day with red wine, white EasyGo Farm alpacas, and blue flowers from the Beaverton Farmers Market.

Celebrate Memorial Day with red wine, white alpacas from , and blue flowers from our the Beaverton Farmers Market.

Red Wine
Pinot is our favorite color. Oregon Wine Month goes out with a bang as the wineries of the Willamette Valley joyously open their doors for the annual Memorial Wine Weekend. Participating wineries are generally open May 24-26 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Check individual wineries for extended hours at select spots.

White Alpacas
Of course, white wine is also welcome on the Memorial Wine Weekend trail, but don’t miss out on the luxurious fluffy, white fleece at the Open Alpaca Barn (May 24-25, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., free). Alpaca mothers and babies will be outside to welcome visitors, as will artists working on handspun yarn.

Blue flowers, berries and treats
While blueberry season won’t be in full swing until July, summer produce will be sprinkled among not one—but three!—fresh farmers markets. Choose from the Beaverton Saturday Market, Cedar Mill Farmers Market or the Hillsboro Saturday Farmers Market. Whether you want blue berries, blue blooms or a blue-frosted cookie, you’ll find it.

Remembering Our History
Of course, it’s important to remember the people who fought for the red, white and blue, too. In honor of Memorial Day, take a visit to the Washington County Museum (Wednesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; $4-$6 admission). The exhibit “Americans All: The Bracero Program in Washington County” tells the history of how Washington County came to have the largest Latino population north of Sacramento. This story includes not only how Mexican and Latino immigrants came to Oregon’s Washington County during World War II, but also how Mexico joined the Allies in 1942 to help find the Axis.  Come learn about this largely untold, yet fascinating and important slice of Oregon and world history.

Have a happy, safe and wonderful Memorial Weekend with us!

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Last Minute Mother’s Day Ideas

Posted on: May 9th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments


The art at the Oregon College of Art & Craft screams "I love you, Mom!"

The art at the Oregon College of Art & Craft screams “I love you, Mom!”

Did Mother’s Day sneak up on you? It has a way of doing that. Just because your Mother’s Day plans are last minute, doesn’t mean they aren’t heartfelt.

If you live driving distance away from Oregon’s Washington County, then jumping in the car for a Tualatin Valley joy ride is the easiest way to spend a gleeful day with the family. This is especially true with so many mom-themed happenings across the county. From vineyard-side brunches to biodynamic gardening workshops, your Mother’s Day plans can range from traditional to unique.

But sometimes, spending Mother’s Day with family is just not in the cards. When you explore our towns on your own, finding the perfect gift for Mom is almost too easy, especially because it’s all tax-free! Here are gift ideas for all five senses:

If your mother passed her artistic aesthetic onto you, then find a one-of-a-kind gift at the Oregon College of Art & Craft. The store includes work from alumni, including handmade cards, ceramics, paintings and more.

Not to get all “Cat’s Cradle” on you, but is anything really louder than the sands of time falling down the hourglass? Tell mom you’re always thinking of her with a charmingly ticking vintage clock from Rose City Modern. This store of retro delights is always getting new selections of George Nelson, mid-century starburst and Peter Pepper Productions clocks.

There’s nothing quite like sharing a bottle of wine with the family, taking a moment to truly savor each other’s company. Bring her a bottle of Abbey Creek Vineyard’s 2013 Rosé. Just like mom, this one is sweet, yet substantial!

Scent holds the strongest tie to memory. Whether you associate fresh-baked cookies or dried lavender with your mother, find bath goodies that fit her personality at Verbena Botanicals. Not only are these products earth-friendly, they are downright adorable with loofah “lollipops” and “cupcake” candles.

In addition to a big hug, splurge on a Spa Getaway Package ($244-$275 per couple) at the McMenamins Grand Lodge. You’ll each receive an hour-long massage and some much-deserved relaxation.

Cheers! It’s Oregon Wine Month!

Posted on: May 7th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

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Hooray! It’s Oregon Wine Month! We Oregonians don’t need a mere month to celebrate our Pinot—we do so year round. Still, we’re thrilled to honor the vines, winemakers and wine lovers in an official capacity each spring. In its third year, Oregon Wine Month is a time to make a hullabaloo over our favorite labels, as well as discover new ones.

Kick off Oregon Wine Month with your mom. As an adult, trade the rattle of macaroni necklaces for clinking wine glasses as a Mother’s Day gift. Head to brunch and a day of wine tastings with our impressive list of Mother’s Day Weekend happenings.

Wineries close to Portland, like Hawks View Cellars, will be celebrating Oregon Wine Month throughout May.

Wineries close to Portland, like Hawks View Cellars, will be celebrating Oregon Wine Month throughout May.

Sip your way through the rest of the month:

Evening Hour at Hawks View Cellars
May 8 | 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. | $15 per person
Catch the sunset over the sweeping views at Hawks View Cellars. The scene is further mellowed by the estate’s sustainably grown Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.

Date Night at Plum Hill Vineyards
May 9 | 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. | $15 per person
Plum Hill Vineyards takes date night seriously, encouraging couples to connect over its Red Velvet Pinot Noir.

Summer Wines Release at Alloro Vineyard
May 17-18 | 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. | $10 per person
Jump start summer with Alloro Vineyard, whose 2013 Estate Riesling and Rosé pairs beautiful with grill-out fare.

Bag & Baggage’s Private Lives at the Venetian Theatre
May 8-25| varying times | $20-$30 per person
Wine and art go hand-in-hand, which is why Bag & Baggage’s season-closing production, Private Lives, is best followed by an after-show drink at the Venetian Theatre. Take your pick of local favorites from Árdíri Winery and Vineyards, Ponzi Vineyards and
Oak Knoll Winery.

Oregon Wine Month goes out with a bang as Memorial Weekend Wine Events infiltrate our hills and valleys.

Don’t be afraid to take your favorite blends home by the case. Simply take advantage of the Oregon Wines Fly Free promotion from Alaska Airlines, happening through the rest of the year!